Whole Roasted Red Snapper

Roasting a whole fish seems a whole lot more daunting than it actually is. In fact, I had never even considered making it until I saw Alton Brown roast a whole fish on Good Eats. After that, I’d been on a mission to make a whole roasted fish, and yesterday they had a beautiful red snapper at the grocery store, so I knew it was time. This is a seriously no-fuss meal, but it really tastes impressive.


1 whole red snapper, cleaned and de-scaled, about 1/2 pound per person
1 bunch dill
1 bunch thyme
4-6 basil leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lemon, sliced thin

When selecting a fish, you want it to still be slimy-looking and have clear eyes. These are good signs of a very fresh fish. Unless you know how to clean a fish properly (and I certainly don’t), you can ask the fish monger to clean it, de-gill it, and scale it for you.

When you get home, pull up the top fin, and with very sharp scissors, cut it off. You’ll also want to cut off the side fins, and in the case of the snapper, the front fins as well.

Brush the fish with olive oil, inside and outside. Lay a bed of herbs below the fish, and stuff the cavity with the rest of them.

Make three incisions in the top of the fish, and lay three slices of lemon in the incisions (or on top of them if your fish is too small, like mine was).

Wrap the fish in aluminum foil, and bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes. Do not open the pouch in that 20 minute time span. When the fish has cooked for about 20 minutes, you can open the pouch and test for doneness. The skin should peel easily from the meat if the fish is cooked fully.

Filet (or flake if your filet skills equal mine), and serve. We had it with lemon-dill rice and Persian pickles.

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